Web Marketing Today

PPC Basics: Part 3. Account and Campaign Settings

In this installment of Pay Per Click Basics, we’ll discuss an often-overlooked yet critical step in launching a PPC campaign: how to set up your account and fine-tune your campaign settings.

While setting up a PPC campaign is not difficult, there are some settings that can affect your results, so it’s important to be aware of them.

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Billing and Currency Settings

One of the first things you’ll be asked to do in setting up a PPC account is to choose a billing method. Google AdWords generally uses credit card billing, so make sure you have a credit card with a credit limit that’s high enough to cover your anticipated PPC budget. A lot of advertisers have had their ads turned off when their credit card hits its limit, so be aware of this pitfall.

AdWords advertisers can choose whether to pay for clicks in advance (prepay) or after clicks have occurred (post-pay). I generally recommend post-pay: it’s easy — and it’s nice not to pay in advance for your ad traffic! Before you choose, however, read the documentation for each method for your country.

Microsoft adCenter offers the additional option of using PayPal for PPC billing.

Both adCenter and AdWords allow advertisers to choose which currency they want to be billed in: US dollar, Canadian dollar, Euro, etc. While this may seem like an obvious choice, it’s important, because once you choose, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to change. I know this from experience, and it was no fun to have to convert currency to reconcile credit card bills every month!

Account Time Zone

Time Zone is another setting that seems obvious, but can’t be changed once it’s set, so it’s important to choose carefully. Normally, you’ll just pick the time zone in which you’re located; but sometimes ad agencies or people managing PPC for others may choose the client’s time zone rather than their own.

You may be wondering why time zones even matter. Your chosen time zone determines the cutoff from one day to the next in your account statistics. For example, if you’re looking at “Yesterday,” you’ll want to make sure that Yesterday started at 12:01 a.m. It may seem like a small detail, but it can make a big difference, especially for high-traffic PPC campaigns.

Ad Distribution – Geography

Geographical location is an important campaign setting to check long before you actually launch a PPC campaign, because the default setting in AdWords is “All Countries and Territories.”

There’s a good chance that your business doesn’t serve all countries. Maybe you only ship goods within the US. Or maybe you’ll ship to Europe, but not Asia due to costs and other concerns. Serving ads to countries you can’t sell to, therefore, is a waste of money.

Even if your business is global and serves all countries, it’s not ideal to target all countries in the same campaign. At a minimum, it’s important to create campaigns along language lines: all English-speaking countries in one campaign, French-speaking countries in another, etc. Searcher behavior varies widely by language, and campaign performance will vary as well, so it’s important to have separate campaigns that you can optimize and adjust accordingly.

Campaign Language

You probably know that Google, Yahoo, and Bing all have search engines in many languages, and that you can search in a language other than the native tongue spoken in the country in which you’re located. For instance, you could be on vacation in Italy, but can still conduct searches in English. If you do this, you may notice that some ads are in Italian and some are in English.

As with Countries, the default target language setting is “All Languages.” The problem is, it’s impossible to write ad copy in every possible language (unless you’re a linguistic genius). So if you don’t adjust this setting, your English (or Spanish or Italian) ads will show up for searchers who have set their default search language to French (or Russian or Klingon).

While some searchers may understand more than one language, it’s best to create separate campaigns for each language and country combination; ideally, your PPC campaign keywords and ad copy will reflect the various languages as well. While it’s more work in the beginning, it will pay off with superior results.

Daily Campaign Budget

Both AdWords and adCenter allow PPC advertisers to set a daily campaign budget. You may be tempted to set your budget very low initially, to be conservative. While you should never set your budget higher than you’re comfortable with, setting it too low will result in almost no traffic.

Say you only want to spend about $100 per month on PPC. This equals about $3-4 per day, right? And let’s say your maximum cost per click is set at $1. It’s easy to see that a daily budget of $4 will only generate 4 clicks at $1 per click.

I recommend setting your daily budget to at least $15 to make sure you get enough clicks to determine whether your PPC campaign is working.

Ad Distribution

If you’re new to PPC, you may not be aware that PPC ads can appear not only on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, but on other search partner sites like AOL and Earthlink, and also display network sites like news and blogs. Advertisers can choose to have their ads appear on just the search engines, on search engines plus search partners, or search plus search partners plus display. The default setting in both AdWords and adCenter is search engines plus search partners, so it’s important to be aware that your AdWords ads won’t just run on Google.com, but also on other non-Google sites.

The ad distribution setting also governs what type of device your ads will appear on. Ads can appear on both desktop computers and mobile devices, such as iPhones, iPads, Android phones, and other devices with a mobile browser. The default is “all devices,” but consider this carefully before accepting that setting. Do you have a mobile version of your website? If not, the people clicking on your ads may not have the best experience on your site.

Also, mobile visitors often have very different goals in mind when performing a search. Have you ever tried to make an e-commerce purchase from your mobile phone? It’s not the easiest thing to do. The best practice is to have separate campaigns for mobile devices that address the particular needs of mobile users.

Ad Rotation

Ad Rotation is a frequently-overlooked setting that can dramatically affect the results of PPC ad tests. It’s overlooked because AdWords essentially hides it. To view the different ad rotation options, you’ll need to click on the link indicated below:

From there, you’ll see that “Optimize for clicks” is the default. Google will automatically start showing the ad with the best click-through rate more often and other ads less often.

This is not a best practice for testing! Often, the ad with the most clicks is not the ad with the most conversions — and you won’t know that with any significance unless each ad gets an equal amount of impressions.

To change this setting, click “Edit;” and then select Rotate:

Although Google warns against this setting, use it anyway. It’s important to give each ad variation an equal chance to perform, and you’ll need to use the “Rotate” setting to achieve that.

By taking time to incorporate these best practices for setting up your account and campaign, you’ll be ready to get the best possible results from your PPC campaign.

Melissa Mackey
Melissa Mackey
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